The group of Synthetic Polymers: Structure and Properties. Biodegradable Polymers (PSEP) belongs to the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and is a part of the Consolidated Research Group (2005SGR-00453) of Química Macromolecular. The team has a well defined and recognized research experience on synthetic polymers and is constituted by specialists on polymer synthesis; structural studies; evaluation of thermal and mechanical properties and studies on biocompatibility and biodegradability. The group participate also in the new Centre of Research in NanoEngineering (CRNE) recently founded. The members of the group belong to different scientific associations like American Chemical Society (ACS), Spanish Group of Polymers (GEP), Spanish Committee of Crystallography, or Spanish Association of Synchrotron Users (AUSE).

The team is specialized in the synthesis of new polymers, their physical and chemical characterization, and the study of their properties. It is mainly involved in the development of biodegradable polymers and the study of degradation processes (hydrolytic, enzymatic and thermal). The study of amorphous content and crystalline phases is also undertaken. The crystalline structures are determined by X-ray diffraction from powder or fiber samples, electron microscopy and molecular simulation. Direct methods are applied to single crystals of small model compounds that are representative of polymer sequences. Research is also focused into the study of crystal growth (from solution or from the melt state) and the kinetics of crystallization.

At the present time, the group has two main objectives: 



a) Development of biodegradable polymers for specialty applications such as bioabsorbable surgical sutures, drug delivery systems and scaffolds for tissue engineering. In general, the investigations are focused on the comprenhension of the influence of microstructure and polymer composition on final properties and degradability since it is a crucial point to design new biomaterials with tailored properties. As far as the development of sutures is concerned, the group pays attention to the effect of adding nanofibers, accelerating or retardant agents for degradation, and compounds with pharmacological activity. The most studied systems correspond to copolymers prepared by ring opening polymerization of trimethylene carbonate, glycolide, e-caprolactone, p-dioxanone and/or lactide. 




b) Study of nanocomposites prepared from degradable polyesters and poly(ester amide)s. The group has previously conducted extensive works concerning synthesis, characterization and evaluation of structure, properties and crystallization behavior of such polymers. Now, it is interested in the improvement of properties and the possibility to produce degradable useful materials for commodity applications. Furthermore, the group aims to clarify the influence of nanoparticles on crystallization processes.